Thoracic spine nerve roots

There are 12 pairs of thoracic spine nerve roots, which are located in the upper and middle back. These nerve roots are made of two types of fibers that send signals between the spine, brain, torso and abdomen: the anterior fibers and the posterior fibers.

Anterior fibers of each thoracic nerve root direct motor information from the brain to receptors throughout the torso and abdomen. Posterior fibers relay sensory information back to the brain. As is the case with nerve roots in neighboring regions, thoracic spine nerve roots enter and exit the spinal column through the foramina, or tiny spaces between each thoracic vertebra.

Nerve compression in the thoracic spine

The thoracic vertebrae are attached to the rib cage, giving them extra stability and structure. This means they are less likely to sustain injury than the lumbar (lower back) or cervical (neck) regions of the spine, which are built to be more flexible.

Even so, thoracic nerve roots can still become compressed due to debilitating conditions, such as herniated discs, bulging discs, bone spurs and spinal stenosis. If a nerve root in the thoracic spine becomes pinched, the following symptoms can develop:

  • Pain surrounding the rib cage, abdomen or inner arms
  • Numbness or tingling in the area of the kidneys
  • Discomfort surrounding the lungs
  • Tightness or weakness in the area of the diaphragm

Treating a pinched nerve in the thoracic spine

For many patients, conservative treatment is an effective method of pain relief for a compressed nerve in the thoracic spine. Conservative treatment is considered any type of treatment outside of surgery, and can include the following methods:

  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Pain medication
  • Stretching and yoga
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Corticosteroid injections

If these treatments are not effective after several months, your doctor may recommend spine surgery. While this option may seem overwhelming, there is a type of surgery that can help reduce the risks and the length of recovery associated with traditional open back surgery: the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.

To date, our minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery has helped more than 60,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Our procedures focus on relieving pressure on the pinched nerve and regaining stability in the spine.

Find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery by contacting us today and requesting a review of your MRI report or CT scan.